100 Greatest Songs in Christian Music Non-Fiction Review : 2006/09/12
100 Greatest Songs in Christian Music: The Stories Behind the Music that Changed Our Lives Forever
edited by Tori Taff
Nashville: Integrity Publishers, 2006, 202pp., $16.99, softcover.
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Any book called "100 Greatest" of anything will elicit both agreement and disagreement. This one is no exception. When you look at the impact a song has, it's hard to argue with Rich Mullins' "Awesome God" getting the #1 spot. Personally, I think Mullins wrote about 10 better songs, such as the more poetic "Calling Out Your Name" and "The Color Green," but impact and popularity make "Awesome God" a reasonable choice for the top.
Amazingly, Mullins recorded the all-time #7 song on the same album as "Awesome God" with his rendition of "Flood." Oops, that was Jars of Clay. Someone wasn't proofreading quite closely enough.
Perhaps the oldest song on the list is Larry Norman's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" from 1969. He recorded it several times over the years, but getting on to the Thief in the Night
movie soundtrack was probably a big part of its success. The ballad effectively captured the sentiment of the Jesus people generation with its melancholy look at the end times.
The hard rockers are mostly left out, although Stryper's "To Hell With The Devil" came in at #70. I think Stryper had plenty of better songs to choose from, but that one had the best attention-getting title.
I don't know how "Easter Song" by 2nd Chapter of Acts fell all the way to #69 when it was one of the first CCM songs to make it into major church hymnals. That's a pretty powerful impact.
There's some interesting trivia in the book, such as the Brigham Young University choir recording Randy Stonehill's "Shut De Do" and Donny Osmond recording "Mary Did You Know?" by Mark Lowry (recorded by Michael English). I guess they top the CMM scene (Contemporary Mormon Music). While we're on the topic of "Shut De Do," I think it's absurd that it got #49 while so many brilliant Stonehill compositions got no mention at all. Pretty much every song on his "Welcome to Paradise" project is better than "Shut De Do," but so it goes.
My vote for best song left out of the book? Probably "Add Up The Wonders" by Stormie Omartian (yes, the "praying" author), recorded by her husband Michael Omartian on "White Horse" back in the late 70s. Pretty much that whole album could have made the Top 100 in my opinion.
Of course, half the fun of a book like this is pumping your fist when one of your favorites appears, or expressing your shock and dismay at some of the other selections. "100 Greatest Songs in Christian Music" is a great trip back through CCM history and will be an enjoyable read for any fan of the genre.
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